Pride in public sector falters as employees lose faith in leaders

  • Majority of public servants do not feel proud to work in the sector and many are considering a move in the near future
  • Senior managers are the most likely to be planning to depart this year
  • New study urges public sector leaders to take urgent action

Senior management and frontline staff have lost their sense of pride in the public sector and are poised to leave, according to new research from global management consultancy, Hay Group.

Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) of public sector workers do not feel proud to work in the sector and seven out of ten (70 per cent) state that their morale is at an all-time low.

More than two-fifths (43 per cent) want to leave their current employer and four-fifths of those (78 per cent) are planning to wave goodbye within the next three years.

John Howarth, associate director in public sector consulting at Hay Group comments: “Over the last five years, the public sector has undergone a dramatic change.

“Within the context of the new economic reality, leaders urgently need to reinvigorate employees’ enthusiasm and reconnect them with a clear organisational purpose and vision.

“If leaders fail to take action, they risk losing their most capable staff. And where talent goes, pride, morale and productivity are sure to follow.”

Senior management ‘black hole’

According to Hay Group’s research, almost a third (32 per cent) of senior managers who are looking to leave their organisation want to do so this year – higher than for any other job level.

More than two-fifths (43 per cent) are planning to leave the public sector altogether, with over four-fifths (84 per cent) falling under the banner of experiencing all-time low morale.

Over a quarter (27 per cent) feel that public criticism is a significant barrier to feeling proud of the sector, and a fifth (23 per cent) highlight a lack of leadership.

Taking action

In order to rebuild pride amongst public sector employees, leaders must ensure that staff are supported and feel valued. As it stands, more than half of employees (52 per cent) feel less supported by their manager now than before government austerity began, while two-fifths (40 per cent) state that staff feel unimportant.

Trust in leadership is also vital. Yet according to Hay Group’s study, almost half of employees (47 per cent) do not believe that their leaders deliver on promises.

John Howarth comments: “During times of change it is a challenge to motivate and engage staff, uniting everyone behind a clear common vision.

“The good news for public sector leaders is that there is still a fundamental belief amongst employees that the sector exists to support and benefit the local community. To rebuild pride and drive engagement, leaders need to harness this sense of purpose – and follow through on all that they promise.”


For further information
For more information, or to organise an interview with John Howarth please contact Joy Forrester.

T: 0207 856 7433

Notes to editors
Please note: this research should be credited to ‘global management consultancy, Hay Group’, and not ‘Hay’ or ‘Hays’, which are separate and unrelated organisations.

About the research
Hay Group’s research is based on interviews with 1,000 public sector employees working in local and central government, health and social care and education. The research was carried out in March and April 2013.